For a group of anonymous Syrian artists who have mocked Bashar al-Assad and criticised the armed resistance, it is a bold move. Masasit Mati, creators of the YouTube finger-puppet show Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator, have begun to perform the satirical series live inside the war-torn country in an attempt to bolster peaceful protest and spur the revolutionary art movement.
The series, which will be shown in London next month as part of the Shubbak festival of Arab culture, caricatures Assad through the puppet Beeshu, the brutal, childish son of a dictator with a beaky nose and saucer-shaped ears. He is protected by his sinister and unquestioning henchman, The Goon, while ordinary Syrians are portrayed as brave and idealistic.
Speaking via Skype from Lebanon, the show’s director, Jameel, said they decided to use puppets to protect the identities of the 10 artists involved and because their small size “was a good way of lampooning the regime that presents itself as godlike”.